Music Diary – 25th January

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 25th January!

Etta James (25th January 1938 – 20th January 2012)

Etta James (25th January 1938 – 20th January 2012)

Happy birthday to Jamesetta Hawkins aka Etta James, who was born on the 25th January 1938 in Los Angeles, Callifornia (USA)!

At the age of five years, Jamesetta received her first vocal training from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir, at the St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Turned 14, she founded the girl group called „The Creolettes“ and shortly after that, the talented and young singer met musician Johnny Otis, who took her under his wings. Otis changed the band name into „The Peaches“ and Jamesetta into the stage name Etta James. In early 1955 the single „Dance with Me, Henry“ was released, which reached number one on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Tracks chart. Due to this success, The Peaches got an opening spot on Little Richard’s national tour.

After leaving the band, Etta was signed by the legendary label Chess Records. With male singer Harvey Fuqua she recorded the singles“If I Can’t Have You“ and „Spoonful„. With „All I Could Do Was Cry“ (1960), Etta had her first solo hit. In the same year her album debut „At Last!“ was released, which offered a varied choice of Jazz standards, Blues tunes, Doo-Wop elements and Rhythm & Blues. Especially James‘ interpretations of the title song, „I Just Want to Make Love to You“ and „A Sunday Kind of Love“ became classics. In 1961 her second LP „The Second Time Around“ featuring the two hits „Fool That I Am“ and „Don’t Cry Baby“. Etta James expanded her style with more Gospel elements – this can be heard on the two recordings „Something’s Got a Hold on Me“ and „Stop the Wedding“. In 1967, the LP „Tell Mama“ hit the stores. The title track and also the tracks „Security“ and „I’d Rather Go Blind“ became further hits.


In the seventies, Etta James continued recording and more albums were released, although she had no big hits anymore. In 1978 she was the opening act for The Rolling Stones and also performed at the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Then she left Chess Records, stopped working and began struggeling with drug addiction and alcoholism. In 1989 Etta signed with Island Records and her albums „Seven Year Itch“ and „Stickin‘ to My Guns“ were released. Three years later, the LP „The Right Time“ (on Elektra Records) followed and in 1992 Etta James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


With her tribute album to Billie Holiday called „Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday“ (1993), Etta James won her first Grammy Award in the category „Best Jazz Vocal Performance“ and ten years later, she was honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. And she picked her next Grammy  (in the category „Best Contemporary Blues Album„) for „Let’s Roll“ in 2005.

Etta became seriously sick and suffered from dementia and leukemia. In November 2011 her last album „The Dreamer“ was released. On the 20th January 2012, Etta James died at the Riverside Communiy Hospital in Riverside (California) – just five days before her 74th birthday and only three days after the passing of Johnny Otis, who discovered her in the fifties.

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Music Diary – 10th January

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 10th January!

Chester Arthur Burnett aka Howlin' Wolf (10th June 1910 – 10th January 1976)

Chester Arthur Burnett aka Howlin‘ Wolf (10th June 1910 – 10th January 1976)

On the 10th January 1976, one of the most outstanding musicians of the Blues genre passed away: Mr. Chester Arthur Burnett, better known as Howlin‘ Wolf, died at the age of 66. Born on the 10th June 1910 in White Station Mississippi (USA), he lived together with his mother and uncle Will, who treated him badly. At the age of 13, he ran away from home and started to search for his father. After a 85 miles barefoot walk he found him and became a full family member.

In the thirties he crossed paths with Blues man Charlie Patton, who taught him playing the guitar and Howlin‘ Wolf started to perform as a solo artist. He also worked and recorded with musicians like Floyd Jones, Johnny Shines, Honeyboy Edwards, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Johnson, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Willie Brown, Son House and Willie Johnson. In 1948 he founded his own band featuring the guitarists Willie Johnson and Matt „Guitar“ Murphy, Junior Parker on harmonica and Willie Steele on drums. The trademark of the sound was Howlin‘ Wolf’s unique voice and the local radio station KWEM in West Memphis began broadcasting the live performances.


In 1951 the first singles were released: „How Many More Years“ with „Moaning at Midnight“ on the flip side (by Chess Records) and „Riding in the Moonlight“ backed with „Moaning at Midnight“ (by RPM Records). One year later, Howlin‘ Wolf was signed only by Chess Records and the Blues man moved to Chicago. More singles followed and in 1959 his debut album „Moanin‘ in the Moonlight“ was released.


In the sixties the Blues classics „Wang Dang Doodle„, „Back Door Man“, „Spoonful“, „The Red Rooster“ (later known as „Little Red Rooster„), „I Ain’t Superstitious„, „Goin‘ Down Slow“ and „Killing Floor“ hit the market and Howlin‘ Wolf became a very famous musician not only on the Blues scene. In 1964 he toured Europe – in the same year, The Rolling Stones reached number one in UK with their version of „Little Red Rooster„. Howlin‘ Wolf continued recording and perfroming – and he worked with many musicians all around the world, like Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. In 1973 his last album „The Back Door Wolf“ for Chess Reccords was released. In the seventies Howlin‘ Wolf suffered several heart attacks and on the 10th January 1976 he died due to complications of kidney disease. He passed away at the age of 66.

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Music Diary – 16th Novemver

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 16th November!

Hubert Charles Sumlin (16th November 1931 – 4th December 2011)

Hubert Charles Sumlin (16th November 1931 – 4th December 2011)

Happy birthday to Chicago Blues man and guitarist Hubert Charles Sumlin, who was born on 16th November 1931 in Greenwood, Mississippi! When Hubert was eight years old he received his first guitar. In 1954 the Blues icon Howlin‘ Wolf invited Sumlin to be in his band – so he moved to Chicago and joined Mr. Chester Arthur Burnett. After the death of Howlin‘ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin continued playing with several band members under the moniker „The Wolf Pack“ until 1980. Sumlin also recorded many solo albums – some of them were nominated for a Grammy Award. Like his last LP „About them Shoes“ (2004), which features performances by Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Levon Helm, David Johansen and James Cotton. Hubert Sumlin was listed as number 43 in the Rolling Stone list of „100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time„. On the 4th December 2011 Hubert Sumlin passed away of heart failure at the age of 80. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards paid the funeral costs for the Blues legend.

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Music Diary – 18th October

Welcome to my Music Diary – today for the 18th October!

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry

Happy birthday to Mr. Charles Edward AndersonChuck“ Berry, who was born on the 18th October 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri! Berry is one of the most important pioneers of Rock’n’Roll music and recorded classics like „Maybellene“ (1955), „Roll Over Beethoven“ (1956), „Rock and Roll Music“ (1957) and „Johnny B. Goode“ (1958),


Since his teens Chuck Berry was playing the Blues and in 1953 he was performing with Johnnie Johnson’s trio. And he developed his very own style – a fresh mixture of Country and Rhythm & Blues. In 1955 Berry travelled to Chicago where he met his idol Muddy Waters. On 21st May the first Chuck Berry Single was recorded for the legendary Chess Records label – an adaption of „Ida Red“ called „Maybellene„. And this was the big start of his carreer: Over one million copies were sold and the single went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues charts. One year later „Roll Over Beethoven“ was released and from 1957 until 1959 more hits followed: Singles like „School Days,“ „Rock and Roll Music,“ „Sweet Little Sixteen“ and „Johnny B. Goode“ entered the top ten. Chuck Berry became a real superstar but his career was stopped in 1959: In December, Berry was arrested because of transporting a 14-year-old girl over state lines (Mann Act). Two trials happened and finaly Berry was served one and one half years in prison from February 1962 to October 1963. Before going into jail, Chuck Berry’s single „Come On“ hit the shops. In the meantime many British bands discovered Berry’s music and acts like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones recorded cover versions.


After beeing released from prison, Chuck Berry returned into the studio and recorded more classics like „No Particular Place to Go„, „You Never Can Tell“ and „Nadine„. And in 1964 he did a successful tour through the UK. Between 1966 and 1969 five albums were released. And on the LP „From St. Louie to Frisco“ (1968) the song „My Tambourine“ is featured, which became later with different lyrics the hit „“My Ding-a-Ling“ (1972). In the seventies, Chuck Berry toured a lot all around the world. Also in the eighties he performed tremendously – appr. 100 concerts per year. And his last studio album „Rock it“ came out in 1979. Until present Chuck Berry concentrates on concerts instead of recording new songs.

In 1986, the documentary „Hail! Hail! Rock ’n‘ Roll“ (directed by Taylor Hackford) was released, to celebrate Chuck’s sixtieth birthday. The event was organized by Keith Richards. The film features also the gues performances of Eric Clapton, Etta James, Julian Lennon, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt.

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